Susan Cane – Quiet

Why did I choose to read the book?

I really liked Susan Canes TED conference, which I watched some time ago and made me decide to read her book. Also, I have a negative bias on introversion, which I hope this book will prove wrong.

What is it about?

Susan Cane is an introvert in the USA, the most extraverted culture in the world. Her book describes, how extraversion became the american social norm and how a lack of this personality trait can thwart your professional success. She describes the history of extro- and introversion and how today most US leaders specifically those, which graduated Harvard are extroverts. For the most part though, she centers on the virtues of introversion, of how being shy, non-impulsive, creative thinkers have shaped our world and how a focus on one specific trait can but simply be wrong.

How did I like the book?

It certainly did the trick. I too am subject to the negative bias on introversion, as I too believe only those which are loud and possess a powerful outgoing presence can be successful. The insight and historical background given by this book are amazing, especially the comparison between the US (culturally extraverted) and China (culturally introverted) was quite fascinating. Which was great as well were the insights given on how to recharge energy in your comfort zone, while still being bold and outgoing when necessity arrives. Overall, this book gives quite some food for thought, as to how important introverted people are to our society as a whole, though I found it slipping in the last third, when it focused on how to treat introverts properly, which I felt was mostly unnecessary.

Peter Thiel – Zero to One

Why did I choose to read the book?

Thiel via his serial entrepreneurship, creating Paypal and investing in Facebook early has become a venture capital celebrity of silicon valley, a VC rock star so to speak. With him being an interesting personality as well, I always wondered what he thought like and what his methods and presumptions to business are.

What is it about?

Thiel presents a lot of unconventional wisdom, amassed during his years of activity in entrepreneurship and venture capital investment and in this book describes how, in his opinion, a lot of common beliefs, are false assumptions.

The eponymous Zero to One describes the following

Go from zero to one by doing new things, as in innovate and distinguish by creating new products and technologies. Focus on people and usage, not on competition.

Do not go from one to N by copying things that work already, as in copy something which already exists and streamline or globalise it.

According to Thiel, innovation will always lead to grater success, than sheer coping or streamlining.

How did I like the book?

Let’s start with an analogy which I really liked and believe to be true:

ZERO TO ONE every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them. – Peter Thiel

Thiel proves himself to be quite insightful in a lot of areas. Especially his thoughts on competition and the need to focus on the new, not the path well trodden, to escape said competition and become a monopoly were very interesting. Other insight, e.g. the need for long-term planning, even in start-ups or the need for entrepreneurs to start in small markets before diversifying or scaling to neighbouring markets were great insight as well. Overall, this book represents Thiel’s opinions, experiences and best-practices for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as well as other interested parties, while not being very academic, the book supports questioning conventional belief (which I wholly support) and provides a lot of high quality food for further thought.